I believe, more than anything else perhaps, in personal responsibility. This is the great driver of my ecofacts, the passion that makes me pursue them, and of my own internal combustion engine – me. This issue is so far reaching and yet so personal, it is difficult for me to essentialize. Attempt number one:
A friend sent me a piece this morning that I subsequently found has been floating around for a while. It is called “the green thing”, and begins with an encounter between an older shopper and young clerk who accuses the older generation of being a source of the current environmental problems. The older one then recounts the myriad ways in which people used to live that were in fact so much greener – drying clothes on the line, owning one small tv instead of many large ones, returning bottles to the store for refilling, driving much less, etc. The missing point in the blog was the skipped generation, the one far more guilty of the waste that had quickly become part and parcel of modern lifestyles, and without any consciousness thereof. Convenience, cheap energy, more stuff, and profits trumped everything else, towards greater and greater disposability, and less energy needed of the human type, while using far more of the other kinds – especially fossil fuels – to produce this effect.
We may be finally turning a corner, but life has been too busy for people to be concerned with every single thing they buy, and they were not meant to be. We have trusted the makers of our things, and the marketers of our culture. We have trusted that these things must be safe if they are being sold, and that if we’re told to buy things, we should. And we’ll be better off for having them. We have been complacent. But maybe even more so, the producers have been. For a long time we didn’t know that most chemicals were untested and unregulated. That they were routinely spewed from plants into nearby rivers. That plastics remain for hundreds of years and leach unhealthy things into our soils and water. Until recent history, people knew the sources of their things, and these were of their world.
The pendulum is swinging back. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) means manufacturers becoming truly responsible for the life cycles and impacts of their products.Take back programs, environmental economics, triple bottom line, sustainable business practices, c2c ( cradle to cradle) are concepts that are beginning to take hold. But the status quo remains, for the most part. So, in the meantime, somehow we must be more responsible for what we buy, and then where it goes. Or at least I must be.